Color-Coded Cutting Boards

Color coded cutting boards in a commercial kitchen
Ian Lishman / Getty Images

One of the most common causes of food-related illness (a.k.a food poisoning) is something called cross-contamination, or the transfer of harmful bacteria from one food product to another by way of contaminated tools, equipment, or hands.

In many cases of cross-contamination, cutting boards are a prime culprit. For that reason, using separate, color-coded cutting boards for different ingredients is a great way of preventing cross-contamination.

Using Color-Coded Cutting Boards

The colors help you keep track of which cutting boards are for reserved for which types of foods so that you're less likely to cut lettuce on the same board you just used for prepping raw poultry.

Sound complicated? Fortunately, you don't need to adopt the entire system in order to cook more safely at home. Even having one separate, distinctively colored cutting board that's reserved just for raw meat is a great idea — one that will go a long way toward minimizing your chances of food-related illness.

Here are the different cutting board colors and their meanings:

  • Green: Fruits & Vegetables
  • Yellow: Raw Poultry
  • Blue: Cooked Food
  • White: Dairy Products
  • Tan: Fish & Seafood
  • Red: Raw Meat
color-coded cutting boards
The Spruce Eats / Katie Kerpel

You can buy a complete set of color-coded cutting boards including all the colors listed above. Or you can buy the colors separately, in case you don't want the whole set.